The boss of John Lewis had been confirmed as the Conservative mayoral candidate for the West Midlands. Andy Street will step down as managing director of the department store chain after being chosen by the Tories to compete for the region’s newly created role of metropolitan mayor. He joined the employee-owned John Lewis Partnership in 1985 as a graduate trainee and has been running the John Lewis chain for nine years. Street faces a tough battle in the Labour heartland against Siôn Simon, MEP for the West Midlands and a former MP for Birmingham Erdington, when the election is held in May. Street, who is from Birmingham, is chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership – the body tasked with driving economic growth in the region. Voters in the region faced a “critical election” in May, Street said. “It will determine how we create wealth here and what type of society the West Midlands will become,” he said. “I … [Read more...] about Tories choose John Lewis boss as West Midlands mayoral candidate
A mother who killed her two daughters because they "got in the way of her sex life" has been jailed for life.Louise Porton denied killing three-year-old Lexi Draper and 17-month-old Scarlett Vaughan, who died 18 days apart last year. But the 23-year-old, of Skiddaw, Rugby, was found guilty of their murder and on Friday she was jailed for a minimum of 32 years.During her trial, jurors heard Porton did not seem distressed by the deaths.Passing sentence at Birmingham Crown Court, Mrs Justice Yip described the murders as "evil" and "calculated"."These were blameless young children who were plainly vulnerable and ought to have been able to rely on their mother to protect and nurture them," she said. "Instead you took their young lives away."The judge told the court Porton had "no medical history or mental disorder that goes any way to explaining what happened in this case".She added: "One way or another you squeezed the life out of each of your daughters, only calling the emergency services … [Read more...] about Louise Porton jailed for life for murder of daughters
‘I fear for my life,” Lucy Watts, 24, tells me from her family bungalow in Benfleet, Essex. Watts has a range of severe health problems – muscle weakness around her lungs; kidney and stomach problems; and dysfunction of the nervous system. Osteoporosis, degenerative disease in her spine and a progressive muscle disease mean she uses a wheelchair. She is hooked up to intravenous drips as we talk. But it isn’t Watts’s health that is causing her to fear for her life. It is the government’s care cuts. Since 2009, when her condition first deteriorated, Watts has lived comfortably at home with her mum, Kate, and sister, Vicky, with the aid of a complex care package: at first some social care delivered through her local authority, and then a more comprehensive arrangement funded by the NHS’s Continuing Healthcare scheme. Over the years, even with a care plan in place, Watts’s mum has been left to take up much of the slack, sometimes finishing … [Read more...] about ‘I could be taken from my home’: why disabled people once again fear being ‘warehoused’
The legal disqualification of Phil Shiner is a vertiginous fall from grace for a public figure who was once widely lauded and honoured for his dedication to human rights. Supporters, formerly vocal but now largely silent, dismissed attacks against him as a vendetta initiated by tabloid newspapers in response to the large number of cases he brought against British soldiers and the Ministry of Defence. The fact that the prosecution was triggered by the MoD when it handed over a dossier of evidence on Shiner to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), initially reinforced those suspicions. But Shiner’s admission last December that he paid an Iraqi middleman to find clients, his admission of other misconduct, his failure to defend himself in the hearings and the tribunal’s final decision will pulverise his reputation. Shiner has been said to be in a fragile mental state, but the tribunal’s decision to proceed in his absence was interpreted as scepticism about his … [Read more...] about Phil Shiner: steep fall from grace for leading UK human rights lawyer
During World War Two, hundreds of thousands of bombs were dropped on Britain, so it is perhaps not surprising they are still being found more than 70 years later. But how much do we know about them?They may be more than 70 years old but the unexploded bombs still being found are not mere relics.The discovery of an unexploded device such as that found in east London on Monday triggers a military response. Neighbouring buildings and streets are evacuated, cordons are put in place and the army's bomb disposal experts go to work.The bomb is then either defused or detonated in a controlled explosion.The vast majority of unearthed devices are bombs dropped on Britain during World War Two, although old shells have been found close to former munitions factories and artillery ranges.But how many of these devices are out there?It is impossible to know, says Matt Brosnan, a historian at the Imperial War Museum."Just to put it in context, the Luftwaffe dropped 24,000 tonnes of high explosive on … [Read more...] about How much of a threat are unexploded bombs?